Taught course

Medical Humanities

Durham University · Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Entry requirements

At least one of the following:

  • A 2:1 undergraduate degree
  • Active enrolment on an intercalated UG/PG medical degree programme
  • At least three years work in a professional environment with relevance to health and/or medicine (e.g. clinical, NGO, policy, care work, etc)

Months of entry


Course content

This exciting and challenging online course applies the knowledge and insight of the humanities and social sciences to gain a deeper understanding of what is meant by health and illness outside of a medical context and, in particular, to analyse how our thoughts and physical experiences become recognised as symptoms.

The course provides Masters-level education across four modules and leads to a postgraduate qualification in nine months full-time or 18 months part-time. It is suitable if you studied subjects such as Anthropology, English, Geography, Law, Modern Languages and Cultures, Philosophy, Sociology, and related disciplines at undergraduate level. You may also benefit if you have a background in health and social care and are looking to bring humanities and social sciences perspectives to bear in your professional practice.

You will study two core modules from the Medical Humanities MA: Concepts and Frameworks in the Critical Medical Humanities, and Reimagining Health Research, with the remaining modules chosen from a number of options.

As you progress through the course you will learn about key health challenges, focusing on debates about the wider social, political and economic environments in which health, illness and medicine are situated. You will also develop advanced skills in interpreting and using different kinds of data, from textual and material sources to data gathered through qualitative methods.

The course is led by the University’s Institute for Medical Humanities and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and you will be taught by specialists from across the University. The interdisciplinary nature of the course provides a fascinating and comprehensive introduction to the wide range of approaches to health taken by different academic disciplines.

Upon completion, you may have the option of applying to the MA, where you will research and write a dissertation.

When you enrol on this course, you will become a member of the Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers (PGECR) network in Medical Humanities, which organises regular seminars, conferences and social events.

Course structure

Core modules:

Concepts and Frameworks in the Critical Medical Humanities provides advanced training in the interdisciplinary field of critical medical humanities and strengthens your understanding of both its development from the less complex context of initial medical humanities study and its distinct contribution to health research and current challenges. This module will also build your knowledge of concepts, theories and approaches essential to research in the critical medical humanities.

Reimagining Health Research: Methodologies in the Critical Medical Humanities equips you with the advanced knowledge and skills needed to critically appraise key health research methodologies used in the critical medical humanities. This module will enhance your ability to assess ideas and evidence from a variety of sources and then choose, justify, or critique work done across key disciplines. It will also encourage you to be reflective and review your own existing competences as well as nurture your ability to work across disciplines.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Illness as Narrative Practice
  • Contemporary Issues in Medical Law
  • Neurodiversity and the Humanities

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PGDip
    full time
    9 months
    • Online learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    18 months
    • Online learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Recruitment and Admissions